April 04, 2012, 9:47 AM — A hospital is usually a pretty busy place, but the neonatal intensive care unit at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children has been buzzing with even more activity than is customary. Thanks to a new technology partnership, the hospital is working to use analytics to predict more accurately than ever before which premature babies are at most risk for disease and infection.
The hospital is in a study to monitor temperature, heart rate, blood saturation and blood pressure levels on preemies, collecting streaming data from electronic devices that monitor the premature babies.
Sick Kids, as the hospital is known, is in good company. Healthcare providers -- from insurance firms to hospitals to service suppliers -- are lining up to adopt advanced technologies to help them take better care of their patients, in many cases becoming more proactive and more personalized than ever before, with the hopes of saving money, too.
Susan Feldman, vice president at research firm IDC, says technology is enabling a process "that will change our lives. One of the things going on in healthcare is understanding we need more of our decisions based on evidence so we can more appropriately process and identify information, and bring it to decision makers in an actionable way."
Other industries to follow
Healthcare is just one of many verticals that are using or will make use of tools that can rapidly analyze information. Emergency preparedness, terrorism detection and fraud detection are all likely to follow quickly, says IDC vice president Susan Feldman.
What these fields have in common, Feldman says, is that they must deal with a lot of incoming data from multiple sources in multiple formats. Feldman believes the market will be divided into platforms -- like Watson -- that provide a set of highly integrated tools; applications built on these platforms will be specific to a particular problem.
"In the future, we will see ecosystems of applications emerging around a relatively small number of platforms," Feldman says. In this scenario, smaller vendors will build specialized applications, adding in the right information sources, and designing the workflow and tools so that users can complete their tasks more efficiently and productively.
Some of the upcoming vendors in this space that Feldman is watching include: